Today's post is a little more serious than I usually go for, but it's something that is near and dear to my heart at the moment.

My mom sent me a poem called "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann today.  It's just lovely.  Anyway, I couldn't shake how this poem made me feel in light of all that is going on in our world today, and as teachers, a huge part of why we went pursued a teaching degree was to let the future of the world know that they are important, they are valued, and that they are loved.  It is SO hard to remember on the days when the students know need this reminder most are the ones you want to yell at and send in the hallway and to tell them just how obnoxious and naughty they are.  But, I truly believe that so much of the violence in our country is a cry for help.  A cry from someone who doesn't feel valued and loved, and a cry from someone who needs to know that they are a child of the universe, no less than the tree and the stars and that they have a right to be here.  As a teacher, I hope when my students leave my classroom at the end of each year they feel more valued than on day 1.  I hope they learned academic stuff, too, but if they learn but one thing, I hope they know that I love and value them.

Oh Factor Tree! Math Carnival Part 2

So a few lovely, kind people were interested in the rest of the stations for my math carnival, so instead of trying to type it out on my phone for Instagram, I thought I'd just post about it here!  I don't have pictures because I haven't pulled everything out yet, so it's just ideas.  Sorry 'bout that!

These stations change each year based on what the group needs.  We usually host the carnival the second to last Friday before Christmas or sometime during the last week before Christmas break.  NOT the very last day because we get out at noon and eat lunch at 10:30.  And it's just a crazy, crazy day.

I use the math carnival to review a few topics that I noticed my class struggled with during the main instruction or things I don't want them to lose from the beginning of the year.

Oh, Factor-Tree

This station reviews prime factorization of numbers.  I cut out a Christmas tree from a poster board and laminated it because I wanted it to last.  On a yellow star, I write the number I want the students to "prime factorize."  On red circles to represent ornaments (or whatever color), I write every number involved in breaking the number down to prime factors.  Example:

Every number gets put on a red circle.  I like to cut straws in thirds for the lines.  :)  In groups, students are supposed to build the tree from top to bottom.  If they have extra numbers, they have to rearrange until every number is used!  My parent helper has a detailed answer key to check it, though I've been fortunate to have parent helpers that have helped enough that they already know how to do it.  Win!  I usually make 5-6 different problems to complete.  Remember, they are only at each station for 15ish minutes.


You can change this to whatever you want to suit your theme: elves, Santa, Claus, reindeer (if you want a longer round), etc.   This is to practice basic multiplication facts.  Instead of just adding the numbers together, I like to have the kids add the number and then multiply them by a certain number for each letter.  ex: for the u, everything gets multiplied by 6, for the n, everything gets multiplied by 9, etc.  My old teaching buddy actually has a product for it here if you'd rather not make it yourself:

The detailed instructions are here:

Divisibility Rules

One year our kids really struggled with this.  We wrote out numbers, placed them in a brown paper bag, and then the kids had to figure out which numbers they were divisible by.  We chose 4 digit numbers so they actually had to apply the rules.  :)  It was pretty low key.  You could have them roll the dice to come up with their own numbers or make it a scavenger hunt.

Moveable Fractions

This year my kids need practice with operations.  We've done a million hands on lessons, but they need to improve their speed because they can't rely SOLELY on drawing it out.  (Not that I am opposed to drawing it out - I think its CRITICAL for deep understanding, but speed and fluency in math is also important).  So I'm using this that I created for my first group:

I'll put this group in the hall with some Christmas music.  They'll LOVE it!

Mostly this is just a time to review and make it fun!  If students earn a sticker at each station (just for participating and not being obnoxious and genuinely trying), they can cash their stickers in for a homework pass after Christmas break.  I also give everyone a Christmas word search so that if their station ends early, they have something to work on, and my parent helpers aren't scrambling. 

Hope that helps my friends, you can make it though these last few days!!!

Christmas Math Carnival

You guys!  It's the most wonderful time of the year when I get to wish for snow and drink hot cocoa that has a candy cane as a stirrer.  YES!  Please don't hate me for being a winter-obsessive.  I love the snow - skiing, coats, boots, scarves, and NO WEEDS GROWING IN MY GARDEN!  Y'all.  Do you even know big my gardening/yard work struggle is?  Ask my neighbors.  They'll tell ya. 

PS, I just purchased Photoshop Elements.  The bottom picture is a free program, the top is Photoshop.  It's a JUMBO learning curve, but I'm liking it so far!  Any tips and tricks, send them my way!


My old teaching friend and I came up with the idea to host a math carnival during December as a way to review some key math concepts before the long break.  We picked out 4 topics that students had struggled to master so that we could reteach and review them, but we wanted to do it in a fun way! 

We set up 4 different stations in each of our rooms and mixed our kids and split them into 8 groups.  (By the way, they thought this was AWESOME to do math with the "other" 6th graders.  Ha!)  I also enlisted some parent volunteers to help out, though it's totally possible to do without them (though if you CAN get them in your room, DO IT!  It's so great to build great parent-teacher relationships). 

At each station, students earned a sticker on their carnival "ticket" for participating.  At the end, they could cash it in for a math homework pass.  This, my friends, is like winning a Golden Ticket into Willy Wonka's factory in our class because homework passes do NOT come easily.

This year, I'm replacing a station that I've used in the past.  My class really struggles with making simple mistakes with their math facts & remembering Order of Operations.  #pleasetellmeyourkidsdotoo  They know the ins and outs of the algorithm, and they can tell you why it works.  But they just go too gosh darn fast, and they mess up in one little place, and I worry about equations after the break because little mistakes like that just make or break a formula.  Ya know?  So, I'm throwing in this tasty booth.

What you need:
Hershey Kisses
Hershey Minatures
(you really can use whatever you'd like, I just like these)

Those cute little Avery circle labels.  I didn't have them when I came up with this, but next year if I'm feeling like I want a cute booth, I will use those!

Put a number on each Hershey Kiss.  For differentiation, some groups can have fractions while others have simpler numbers.  I'd stick with 0-14 and use each number several times.  Maybe like two times with 8-14 and three times with 0-7.  This is a very careful set-up....can you tell?  On your Minatures, put a label or Post-it note on the bottom with a number.  These are the target answers.  Students take 5 kisses and 1 miniature to create their problem.  It plays just like Krypto, so if you've never played that, check out this video below...thanks random nice man for saving me time! :)

Here's a free PDF of the recording sheet for your kiddos!  I usually only give them 15-20 minutes at the station, so they generally get through 4-5 problems in that time.  It's a blast for them!